coastal damage

Miami Herald archives

As South Florida's ritzy coastline, bejeweled with luxury condos and posh hotels, has come under increasing threats from flooding and storm surge driven by climate change, scientists have focused on reefs to defend that wealth.

Over the past century, Louisiana has lost more than 2,000 square miles of coastline, leaving it more vulnerable to storms, flooding and sea level rise. State officials have been fighting back, building levees, artificial marshes and barrier islands. Now they want to harness the muddy Mississippi River, diverting its sediment-rich waters into shrinking marshes and wetlands.

USFWS/Southeast / Flickr Creative Commons

South Florida's beaches in late spring through much of the fall resemble something of a crime scene, or rather, dozens of miniature crime scenes. Brightly colored caution tape and wooden stakes can be found scattered throughout the sand, sectioning off areas where sea turtles have left the water to build nests.

That tableau could look a bit different this year, says marine conservationist Dr. Kirt Rusenko, who is based at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. 

daspader / Flickr Creative Commons

The beach is emblematic of Florida life, so it computes that waterside residents in Palm Beach County are scrambling to find ways to keep the beach from crumbling into the ocean. Unfortunately, proposed sea walls -- meant to slow the beach erosion widely seen throughout South Florida -- actually hasten the problem, according to some environmental groups and government officials.